FireStarter Speaking and Consulting has released its "2019 People in Construction Report," which shows that many construction professionals are doing little to improve safety in the industry. Of those executives who were surveyed for the report, 85% said they believe safety is a top priority. On the other hand, 93% of field supervisors and 97% of those in office positions said the same. New York residents may see these survey results as a sign that there is more talk than action.
Almost half of the worker fatalities in 2017 were in the construction and transportation industries according to global investment firm Conning. Workers in New York should know that there are several factors involved in this trend.
Around 6 million people in New York and across the U.S. work in construction, making up around 4% of the workforce. At the same time, they see some of the highest injury and fatality rates. In 2012, just over 19% of worker fatalities, 806 out of 4,175, were in the construction industry. That same year, construction workers saw the seventh highest rate of non-fatal injuries requiring time off work: 382 out of every 10,000 full-time workers.
As of April, 16 construction workers have died in the city of New York in 2019. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has stated that the city sees more deaths in construction than in any other industry. The number of worksite deaths has gone up 33% in the past five years. Even more startling, the number of injuries has gone up 221% in the same period.
Three fatal construction accidents in one week have prompted a New York City councilman to call for the implementation of a workplace safety law that was enacted in 2017. The councilman says that the training protocols required by Local Law 196 may have prevented one or all of the fatalities. While the deadline for employers to meet the 40 hours of safety training mandated by the law remains Sept. 1, 2020, the date for reaching 30 hours of training has been moved from Dec. 1 to June 1, 2020.
Construction workers in New York face many hazards while they are on the job. Even though construction work is among the most dangerous types of jobs, many workers are paid low wages. New York's city council is considering a bill that would require construction companies that have government contracts to pay the prevailing wage. However, more needs to be done to improve the safety of the workers.
The pressure to meet deadlines and stay within budget causes many construction managers to neglect worker safety. This is part of the reason why the construction fatality rate is so high in New York and across the U.S. In 2016, there were 4,693 fatalities in private industries, and of those, one in five were construction employees.
Construction is the deadliest industry in New York. In the capital, the number of construction deaths went from 17 in 2011 to 25 in 2015, while construction-related injuries (at least, those that were reported) rose from 671 in 2016 to 761 in 2017. In response to this, there have been changes to safety training regulations.
The family of a 44-year-old man who was killed in a construction accident in New York on Nov. 21 has called for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death. The family members, who were joined at a press conference by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, claim that the man was laboring in conditions so unsafe that crane operators refused to work.
A series of construction accidents in New York City sparked a change in the law and requirements imposed on construction companies. In many cases, the accidents were caused by situations that would have been prevented if proper workplace safety procedures were followed on the site. As a result, the City Council passed a bill that increased the safety training requirements for construction workers on projects in the city. In October 2017, Local Law 196 was signed, but a year later, critics say that it has had little practical implications for construction workers' safety.